Weekly Media Roundup (30 June – 6 July 2018)

Here are some of the press freedom- and free expression-related events and issues you might have missed last week:


Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA)


[Philippines] Center for Media Freedom & Responsibility (CMFR)

Radio reporter shot dead in Negros Occidental


Media workers killed in two separate shootings


Inquirer.net pressured to remove columnist’s opinion pieces



[Philippines] National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)

On Inquirer.net’s take down of Pepsi Paloma articles


On the proposed amendments to the Anti-Terror Law



IFEX. “New cybersecurity & terrorism laws erode rights; women fight back; & more media killings: Asia-Pacific” 


General news

Tactical Tech. “What’s Up with WhatsApp: The Widespread Use of WhatsApp in Political Campaigning in the Global South” 

“In the country reports by Tactical Tech’s partners as part of our research on the global Influence Industry, it is clear that since 2015, WhatsApp is increasingly becoming the main tool for political campaigns in the Global South, and its influence is continuing to grow.” 



Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Cambodia Summons Media Over Online Information Controls Ahead of General Election” 

“Cambodia’s government on Tuesday (3 July 2018) summoned representatives of the country’s press to ‘educate’ them on its decision to monitor and ‘control’ online news ahead of a controversial general election in July, prompting NGOs and media watchdogs to decry the move as censorship.” 

See also: 

The Phnom Penh Post: “Three ministries watch internet from today to prevent ‘social chaos’” 

The Guardian: “Cambodia ‘fake news’ crackdown prompts fears over press freedom” 


New Naratif: “The End of Cambodia’s Free Press” 

“But the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights has noted an increase in ‘targeted prosecutions’ against journalists and activists in the past year…. ‘It is deeply concerning that since past months, critical media outlets, and journalists working on social issues in particular, appear to have been targeted by the authorities… it is hard not to feel alarmed by the state of press freedom in Cambodia,’ says (Chak) Sopheap.” 



The Jakarta Post: “Molotov cocktails thrown at Aceh tabloid newspaper office” 

“An unidentified person threw Molotov cocktails at the office of Aceh-based tabloid newspaper Modus in Gampong Berauwe, Aceh, on Saturday (30 June 2018)…. There were no casualties reported but the building suffered from minor damages.” 


Tech in Asia: “Popular video app Tik Tok banned in Indonesia” 

“Tik Tok, a popular app that allows users to make short music videos, has been banned in Indonesia, reported CNN Indonesia and Kumparan…. The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology confirmed the news in a statement. The block has been in place since this afternoon (4 July 2018). While the app can still be downloaded, all the content in it cannot be viewed.” 


The Jakarta Post: “Ministry says money given to journalists ‘form of appreciation’ not bribery” 

“The Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry has defended its decision to give money to journalists after an event, following criticism from the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), which accused the ministry of bribery…. The ministry said the monetary provision was in line with state regulations and that it was up to each journalist whether or not to accept it. The ministry said the money was not bribery but a form of ‘appreciation’ for the journalists’ work.” 



Malaysiakini: “Defence cites ‘trial by media’, court grants interim gag order” 

“High Court judge Sophian Abdul Razak has granted the defence’s application for an interim gag order with regard to the case involving former premier Najib Abdul Razak…. Najib’s lead counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah argued that the gag order was crucial in order to prevent statements which could affect his client’s case…. He also cited the alleged incidents of how his client had been subjected to a ‘trial by media’ even before his case is heard in court.” 

See also: 

Lawyer: Judge has no power to gag ‘world at large’” 

The Edge Financial Daily: “AG to oppose gag order” 


Free Malaysia Today: “Vindicated, Clare says 1MDB episode shows importance of press freedom” 

“Clare Rewcastle-Brown, the London-based journalist who was among key personalities behind exposes on the 1MDB affair, said she was relieved to see the ‘most powerful in the country’ brought to justice, following the arrest of former prime minister Najib Razak today (3 July 2018)…. Rewcastle-Brown, who was wanted by Malaysian police following reports on the troubled state firm published in her website Sarawak Report, said the whole 1MDB episode showed the importance of ensuring press freedom so that leaders are accountable for their actions.” 


thesundaily.my: “Foreign journalist hurt in scuffle at KL court complex” 

“An international media journalist suffered minor injuries when covering the prosecution of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex here today (4 July 2018).” 


Free Malaysia Today. “Corruption probes: Enough with the defamation suits, says DAP man” 

“Former Johor DAP chairman Dr Boo Cheng Hau today (5 July 2018) called for a mechanism to restrain political leaders from filing defamation suits against individuals, publication houses and the media to encourage critical investigative reporting and whistleblowing on corruption.” 


Malay Mail: “Under ‘trial by media’? Mat Sabu tells Opposition to counter bad press with social media” 

“Amanah president Mohamad Sabu advised the Opposition to utilise social media to run counter narratives if they feel that they are undergoing a trial by media…. The defence minister was replying to a question posed to him on an RTM programme tonight (3 July 2018), where it was suggested elements of Barisan Nasional (BN) have accused the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government of deflecting real issues by blaming the previous administration.” 



Reuters: “Myanmar court to hear arguments on charging jailed Reuters reporters” 

“Prosecutors and defence lawyers will present arguments on Monday (2 July 2018) whether two Reuters reporters accused of obtaining secret documents in Myanmar should be charged, after the six-month pre-trial phase of the landmark case ended last month…. After hearing the arguments, the court in Yangon will rule on whether Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, will be charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.” 

See also: 

The Irrawaddy: “Families of Detained Reuters Reporters Struggle to Stay Positive” ; “Commentary | Same Old Story: For the Military, the Media is Simply a Tool” 

Radio Free Asia (RFA): “Myanmar Court to Rule on State Secrets Charge Against Reuters Reporters” 

Asian Correspondent: “Burmese press face ‘threats’ and ‘shame’ in reporting Rohingya crisis” 

The Star Online: “Judge to decide if Reuters pair will face trial” 

The Guardian. “Myanmar: pleas for release of Reuters journalists mount” 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF): “Decision on trial for Reuters reporters will test Myanmar’s democracy” 

PEN America: “Myanmar Court has opportunity to uphold press freedoms by dropping case against Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo” 

Human Rights Watch (HRW). “Myanmar: Free Reuters Journalists, Drop Case” 



INQUIRER.net: “INQUIRER.net statement on the Pepsi Paloma stories” 

“INQUIRER.net management has decided to temporarily make the opinion pieces on the Pepsi Paloma case unavailable on the site pending a review of the allegations made there by US-based writer Atty. Rodel Rodis, who is not an employee of INQUIRER.net but who has been contributing opinion pieces to us once a month…. Sen. Vicente Sotto III, in a letter to INQUIRER.net on May 29, 2018, made a formal request for the pieces to be taken down, claiming they were unverified and ‘have been negatively affecting my reputation for the longest time.’ The opinion pieces had been posted on the site since March 2014.” 

See also: 

ABS-CBN News: “Inquirer’s Pepsi Paloma articles ‘unavailable’ pending review after Sotto plea” ; “Inquirer says takedown of Pepsi Paloma articles not a press freedom issue” 

GMA News: “Inquirer.net takes down Pepsi Paloma articles after Sotto’s request” 

Rappler.com: “Inquirer news site’s Pepsi Paloma articles now inaccessible” 

philstar.com: “Temporary takedown of Pepsi Paloma articles not a question of press freedom, says Inquirer.net” 

CNN Philippines: “Inquirer editor, reporters protest takedown of Pepsi Paloma stories after Sotto request” 

Bulatlat.com: “Journalists lament Inquirer.net’s taking down of Pepsi Paloma stories” 


GMA News: “Businessman Wilfredo Keng to present new evidence in libel case vs. Rappler” 

“The complainant behind a pending libel case against online news site Rappler is expected to submit new evidence before the Department of Justice (DOJ)…. The panel of prosecutors handling the cyber libel complaint filed by businessman Wilfredo Keng set a July 17 hearing for filing the affidavit of a new witness.” 


Sun.Star Philippines. “Editorial: Shout-out for community journalists” 

“The importance of a local press to the vibrancy of the community cannot be underestimated, especially in the age of ‘fake news’ and social media attacks against mainstream media’s credibility. Shooting the messenger does not just attack the press but erodes democracy, founded on civility, rationality, and the Law.” 

See also: 

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): “Director-General urges investigation into assassination of journalist Dennis Denora in the Philippines” 


Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). “Mission Journal: Duterte leads tri-pronged attack on press amid condemnation of controversial policies” 

“Reporters, editors and advocates told CPJ in May that the government is using a tri-pronged approach to intimidate the press via verbal assaults, social media attacks, and threats to withdraw media groups’ licenses or hit their commercial interests to encourage self-censorship when reporting on sensitive issues. Those issues include Duterte’s controversial drug war, a campaign that rights groups say has led to over 12,000 killings since he took office.” 


philstar.com: “‘Thinking Pinoy’ indictment no win for free speech, advocates warn” 

“‘Thinking Pinoy’ blogger Rey Joseph Nieto’s indictment for libel, while a moment of schadenfreude for many on social media, is a step backward for freedom of expression advocates who believe that libel should not be a crime.” 

See also: 

ABS-CBN News: “‘Thinking Pinoy’ blogger RJ Nieto indicted for libel” 

GMA News: “Blogger RJ Nieto ordered charged for cyber-libel in ‘defaming’ Trillanes” 

Rappler.com: “Thinking Pinoy blogger RJ Nieto indicted for cyber libel” 

InterAksyon: “The libel charge against ‘Thinking Pinoy’ and the limits of free speech” 

Malaya Business Insight: “(Opinion) Libel should be decriminalized” 


Rappler.com: “Military rejects electronic surveillance limits in draft constitution” 

“The military rejected a provision in the proposed new constitution seeking to limit the conduct of electronic surveillance, setting the stage for a national debate on digital privacy in the country…. Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Carlito Galvez Jr on Thursday, July 5, said the constitution being ‘absolute’ should only tackle ‘generalities’ and avoid discussing ‘operational matters’ that could limit military actions.” 


Foundation for Media Alternatives (FMA): “Big Data and Data Privacy” 

“The accumulation and use of data continues to evolve in terms of speed, breadth, and complexity. Things have reached that point when it is now possible to process data at speeds that allow some machines to act and respond like humans. Personalizing products for individual customers is now a reality; the same way predicting behavior no longer wallows in the realm of science fiction. All because of big data and the technologies developed to harness it.” 



Bangkok Post: “Media must self-regulate, says Meechai” 

“Constitution Drafting Committee (CDC) chairman Meechai Ruchupan on Wednesday (4 July 2018) stressed the need for media outlets and organisations to push for a law to promote and enforce self-regulation…. Delivering a keynote speech to mark the 21st anniversary of the Press Council of Thailand, Mr Meechai said the time was right for the media to roll out a legal mechanism that would enhance self-regulation without compromising press freedom.” 


The Nation: “Cave saga exposes the challenge of fake news” 

“With news on the mission to rescue a dozen boys and their football coach in a cave in northern Thailand grabbing the nation’s attention, fake news, rumours and dramas are also poisoning the Internet, further burdening the people working in the area…. An ethics member of the Thai Journalists Association, Banyong Suwanpong, said the situation would prove media’s professionalism while also advising people to source their information from reliable news outlets rather than easy-access channels.” 

See also: 

Khaosod English. “Too little science in Thai cave coverage: Scholar” 


Amnesty International. “Thailand: Authorities must drop absurd charges over peaceful university protest” 

“Responding to news that two academics and two students from Chiang Mai University were charged on Wednesday (4 July 2018), along with a writer, with ‘holding an unlawful political gathering’ after they were photographed at a private academic conference with a banner protesting military surveillance of the event, Katherine Gerson, Amnesty International’s Thailand campaigner said: ‘These absurd charges would be laughable were it not for the potentially grave consequences for those involved, and what they say about the parlous state of the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Thailand.'” 



Defend the Defenders: “Independent Blogger Le Anh Hung Arrested, Charged with ‘Abusing Democratic Freedom’” 

“On July 5, Vietnam’s authorities arrested independent blogger Le Anh Hung and charged him with ‘Abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the State, lawful rights and interests of organizations and/or citizens’ under Article 331 of the country’s 2015 Penal Code…. Police also conducted searching in his mother’s house in Kim Giang commune, Hoang Mai district, Hanoi, according to independent journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, who is also a former political prisoner.” 

See also: 

Amnesty International. “Viet Nam: Blogger arrested for criticizing government must be freed” 


Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ): “CPJ awardee ‘Mother Mushroom’ faces threats, poor prison conditions” 

“The Committee to Protect Journalists today (3 July 2018) strongly condemned the recent harassment of jailed Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, known by her pen name ‘Mother Mushroom,’ and called again for her immediate and unconditional release…. Prison authorities at Thanh Hoa province’s Prison Camp 5 recently began placing Quynh in a shared cell with two other female prisoners, one of whom has verbally threatened the journalist, according to a Facebook post from Quynh’s mother, Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, which she wrote after visiting her daughter on June 26.” 

See also:

Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand (FCCT): “(Programme cancellation) SPECIAL REPEAT SHOWING- ‘When Mother’s Away’ – a Vietnamese family deals with separation” 




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